De Haas, John Philip

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De Haas, John Philip

DE HAAS, JOHN PHILIP. (1735–1786). Continental general. Pennsylvania. Born in Holland, John Philip De Haas came to America with his parents around 1737 and settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. De Haas was an ensign in the Provincial Battalion of Pennsylvania in December 1757 and was stationed on the Susquehanna River. He accompanied General John Forbes's expedition to Fort Duquesne the next year, served throughout the rest of the Seven Years' War, and during Pontiac's War took part in Colonel Henry Bouquet's victory at Bushy Run in August 1763. During the period from 1765 to 1779, he was a local magistrate and engaged in the iron industry of Lancaster County. In 1775 he raised a militia company, was named major of the Pennsylvania Provincials, and on 25 October 1776 was appointed a colonel of the First Pennsylvania Battalion. He led this unit to Canada and is credited with saving Benedict Arnold from possible capture at Lachine by arriving with four companies to drive off an enemy column. During the retreat from Canada he operated between Montreal and Sorel during the month of June 1776, before joining the final withdrawal to Ticonderoga.

De Haas's First Pennsylvania Battalion formed the nucleus of the Second Pennsylvania Continentals, of which he was named colonel on 25 October 1776. He was appointed brigadier general on 21 February 1777, but hesitated so long in acknowledging his promotion that General George Washington wrote in June to ask if he was still in the army. It appears that he was not, for De Haas does not appear in the service records from 1777 until his official retirement on 3 November 1783, except for being brevetted as a major general on 30 September 1780. It is possible that, during the intervening years, he was in unofficial retirement because no brigade could be found for him to command. In 1779 he moved to Philadelphia, where he died in 1786.

SEE ALSO Arnold, Benedict.


Hess, Abram. "The Life and Services of General John Philip de Haas, 1735–1786." Historical Papers and Addresses 7 (1916): 69-124.

                    revised by Michael Bellesiles

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De Haas, John Philip

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